NITI Aayog organized a conference at Vigyan Bhawan with the representatives of the State Governments on the evolving role of NITI and its engagement with the State Governments. Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya , Members Bibek Debroy and Ramesh Chandra, Chief Executive Officer Sindhushree Khullar, Chief Secretaries of West Bengal , Jharkhand and Mizoram were among the dignitaries who attended the deliberations. Planning and Finance Secretaries of States and officials of NITI Aayog also participated in the meeting.
NITI Aayog with its mandate of cooperative federalism has been regularly engaging with States, particularly during the meetings of the Sub group of Chief Ministers constituted specifically with themes such as Rationalization of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), Skill Development and Swacch Bharat Abhiyan in addition to Task Forces on Agriculture and Poverty Elimination led by the Vice Chairman with similar bodies having been set up in each State. However, a need was felt for a broad based consultation on the States’ expectation of the role NITI should play in the future. Three broad thematic areas that were taken up for discussion. These include :
(i) Role of NITI Aayog to foster cooperative federalism
(ii) Rationalization of CSS and its implications for the States
(iii) Challenges in the Budgeting Exercise for the FY 2015-16 and planning for FY 2016-17
The Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog , Shri Arvind Panagariya underlined the need to gradually shift our focus from Planning to Policy so as to influence behaviors of actors- both public and private in view of the changed economic scenario with major share of investments coming from the private sector. He emphasized the fact that many of the Indian States have now achieved sizes of economy that are larger than many countries. Hence, they need much greater interaction not only nationally but also with international players.
It was also stressed that the Fourteenth Finance Commission has significantly enhanced devolution of resources to the States and this means greater responsibility in exercising their policy choices. Mr. Panagariya called upon the States to seriously consider reforms in agriculture and in the factor markets – land and labour. He assured them of all possible assistance from NITI Aayog in this endeavor.
The States were broadly in agreement with the reduced role of NITI in allocative decisions and desired that NITI Aayog should play the role of a Knowledge organization. It should also play the role of documenting and disseminating the best practices of States so that the national development effort can receive a fillip. It should concentrate on longer term strategic issues and also act as an advocate for the States and also play a coordination role vis-à-vis the Central Ministries.
The CEO of NITI AYOG, Sindhushree Khullar summed up the deliberations by laying down a road map for bi-annual structured consultation of NITI with States. She said that in the short time that NITI has been in existence, led by the Chief Ministers it has done a remarkable job in nudging the States toward consensus on contentious issues, but it is still very much a work in progress. She hoped that the engagements with States would deepen further with the efflux of time.
IndianBureaucracy.com wishes the very best.